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How meal prep and healthy substitutions helped this chef lose over 50 pounds

Anyone who has lost weight will tell you that there was some type of breaking point that ignited their desire to slim down. For Jessi, it was when her 214-pound body literally kept her up at night.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Jessi said. “I couldn’t fall asleep, couldn’t stay asleep. I had problems breathing.”

Her weight was even affecting her job performance.

“As a chef, I’m on my feet (a) minimum (of) 12 hours a day. My feet, knees, ankles and back were constantly hurting,” said Jessi. She was in constant pain.

Jessi first turned to a calorie counting app. “I was cheating the whole time. I would track that I was standing all day for my job and losing calories, but really I wasn’t,” says Jessi. She soon gave up.

Part of her problem: her job. She works 60 hours a week and only has one day off. She’s also surrounded by food — and it’s usually the most calorie-packed food around.

The diet change that turned it all around

Jessi wanted to eat more vegetables instead of sandwiches and more healthy protein instead of cheesesteaks and bacon (a typical chef diet) — but she simply didn’t have the spare time to cook lunch and dinner every single day of the week. So, her friend offered a shockingly simple solution: Make all her meals for the week at once and then package them up.

“It only takes me an hour and a half at the most to prep my meals for the week. It’s so much easier when you make it in the beginning of the week. You just grab it and go,” said Jessi.

At first, Jessi kept her meal prep pretty basic. “I started doing simple things like overnight oatmeal and quinoa salads for lunch,” she said.

But over time, she learned to experiment — and transform her favorite calorie bombs into healthy, delicious eats. For example, she took her chicken Parmesan recipe and altered it to feature baked chicken and veggies with less pasta.

Since Jessi started meal prepping a year ago, she has lost 54 pounds and has no plans to stop practicing this weight loss hack.

How to lose weight by meal prepping

Here are Jessi’s tips:

Create easy grab-and-go items

Think chia seed pudding, smoothie bowls, avocado egg salad and burrito bowls.

Keep lunch and dinners as simple as possible

Jessi’s go-to meal prep dishes include ground turkey meatballs, cauliflower prepared in different ways (roasted, mashed, riced), ground turkey with Spanish seasonings over Spanish cauliflower rice and marinated chicken breasts.

“I like to do a lot of multitasking, so when the chicken is in the oven and I’m making the sides for the dish,” said Jessi.

Season your food

When your food is seasoned properly it makes it more enjoyable to eat it. And most importantly, never deprive yourself of the foods you love! When you meal prep, you can find lots of way to make healthier version of dishes you like to indulge in, says Jessi.

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